New guidelines from the FDA released in June this year, are recommending that women eat more fish during pregnancy. [1]

Fish are a great source of important nutrients like Omega 3, Choline and Vitamin D.

Omega 3 during pregnancy, not only supports healthy cell and brain development but can also be beneficial in reducing post-natal depression and is great for preventing stretch marks!

Choline is a vital nutrient for conception and pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects and support healthy brain development.[2]  Choline remains important right through to breastfeeding when demand increases to support learning and memory. [3]

“Choline in the diet of the pregnant mother and infant is directly related to permanent changes in brain function. Without enough choline during the critical time of brain growth and development, intelligence, memory and possibly mood regulation will be damaged permanently. We may not be able to measure the exact impact on IQ or other brain functions, but we do know enough at this point to start preaching the choline message” A review in the Journal of Pediatrics concluded.

Yet studies reveal that up to 90% of us aren’t reaching recommended levels of this important nutrient.  “Our preliminary dietary studies clearly show an insufficient choline intake compared to the recommended levels,” said Curtis, an analytical chemist and project leader for ongoing choline research at the University of Alberta.[4]

Vitamin D is also commonly deficient during pregnancy, with studies revealing that around 80% of us aren’t getting enough,[5] yet it’s so important for the health of both mother and baby.

Vitamin D helps support healthy bone and muscle growth in the baby as well as helping to reducing complications such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm birth and infection. [6]

However, before you start stocking up on this superfood from the sea, some fish can also be contaminated with harmful mercury.  Mercury can be particularly damaging to a developing brain and can be passed on to your baby during pregnancy and through breast milk.

So it’s important to know what fish to include and what fish to avoid.   The FDA guidelines recommend eating 2 – 3 serves of low mercury fish per week.

“Eating fish with lower levels of mercury provides numerous health and dietary benefits,” said Nancy Stoner, the EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Water. “This updated advice will help pregnant women and mothers make informed decisions about the right amount and right kinds of fish to eat during important times in their lives and their children’s lives.” [7]

Fish should always be eaten well cooked and raw fish such as sushi and sashimi should not be consumed due to their risk on infection.

Fish to include in your healthy pregnancy/breastfeeding diet:

Sustainably caught or sustainably farmed:

  •       Cod
  •       Salmon
  •       Sardines
  •       Snapper
  •       King fish
  •       Whiting
  •       Flathead
  •       Trevally
  •       Tuna

Fish to avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding:

  •       Swordfish
  •       Flake
  •       Marlin
  •       Broadbill
  •       Orange roughy/Sea perch
[1] http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm397929.htm
[2]Shaw GM, Carmichael SL, Yang W, Selvin S, Schaffer DM. Periconceptional dietary intake of choline and betaine and neural tube defects in offspring. Am. J. Epidemiol 2004;160:102–9. [PubMed: 15234930]
[3]Andrea Hill. U of A researchers strive to increase awareness of forgotten essential nutrient. University of Alberta News August 5, 2011
[4] Andrea Hill. U of A researchers strive to increase awareness of forgotten essential nutrient. University of Alberta News August 5, 2011
[5]Hollis BW and Wagner CL. Assessment of dietary vitamin D requirements during pregnancy and lactation. Am J Clin Nutr, May 2004 Vol. 79, No.5, 717-726
[6]Salynn Boyles, High doses of Vitamin D cut pregnancy risks – Medscape News May 5 2010
[7] http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm397929.htm
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  • This was an interesting mini article. Thanks for posting!


  • I was unable to eat fish during pregnancy. The look and smell was enough to set me off! :(


  • Thanks for this, lots of timely advice!


  • I cut down on seafood massively while pregnant but everything is ok in moderation.


  • I am glad the fish that contain high levels of mercury are listed.
    I heard that swordfish is probably the worst and that many people make soup using it.

    • cheers tasha for your insight on this topic


  • I think that low murcury fish is very healthy for pregnant women


  • Thanks for sharing this interesting and informative article; in particular thanks for the lists of fish to eat/not to eat, very helpful.


  • I love fish both before, during and after pregnancy but always asked what type of fish I was getting at the local cafe. I’d rather ask and not order then receive it and be guilty for the rest of the pregnancy of any complications. Better be safe then sorry.


  • I can take or leave fish, love any other seafood though.


  • I craved fish the whole time I was pregnant with my son! so good!


  • very interesting article and I will have to add fish to the shopping list!


  • Great article and points for those who are pregnant or thinking of becoming. Then again fish is good for everyone. THANX


  • the list of fish you can eat are popular ones anyway


  • Thank you for this informative article!


  • Tuna & flathead I wouldn’t be able to go without.

    I like the guide of recommendations, but if we’re going to talk about sustainable options, flake should never be on any list of fish to eat. Ever.
    Flake is shark. I won’t get on my soapbox, but they should not be eaten, they’re too important to the oceans, the food chain & our environment.


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